Acknowledgements: Thank you to the following for reviewing, favouriting and alerting this story: ljepurple6, djlnjdsndjlsnsdj, xXWingedDreamerXx, Lovethehumor101, EchoTasteLightZim, jinxcat99, EJM513, Blanckary, Herr Benzadrine (great user name by the way), MarauderMoony21, missnoodlechan, Petalnose, RAINBOWwORLD5678, Yami-no-Oujo, THE-complete-zelda-fan, Cathrag, Daughter of the Wise One, Hotel of California, DeviousDragons, Frustration, WinterLake25, JuniperGentle, icantthinkofausername, Beelzineff, PhantomPrussia, Nekolandia flippyanimegirl, Azamiblossom, Waverripple of Team Sunrise, button-pusher, Shrapnelgirl, Dogsrule, Chattie 98, Timisafunsucker, Irishmaid, Becky 999, Pedro-is-Madi12, ZeroLuver567, Lilypad The Fourth, Teh Awesome BeastMODE6 (if I've missed anyone please shout).
Chapter 10 - Apocalypse Maybe
One hour earlier:
When Ivan left his florist shop, he had a headache sure, but he was still Ivan - the strange, clumsy, socially inept florist with vague Russian ancestry.
He had misgivings about the doctors' surgery anyway. The crude receptionist ran off when he saw him and retched up blood. The Romanian dentist smiled a very pointed smile and would ask him if he'd like to visit him in his castle and drink red wine. The German doctor was always quick and efficient (Dr Beilschmidt usually prescribed Ivan the strongest painkillers/valium he had to get him out) but Ivan always had an urge to smash a pipe into that German face. And for this reason, Ivan always skipped (not literally - he only skipped around his flat above the shop, he didn't want to look silly in public in case Yao was watching) to the head of the queue.
This time was different however, as Ivan walked in he was met by a barrage of German and so his headache worsened tenfold.
In short, Roderich and Gilbert had descended to shouting at each other in their mother tongue. Translated it went like this:
"You should have helped me into the surgery, you uncouth barbarian!" Roderich had opened hostilities before Ivan had entered the surgery, hopping off his mobile scooter, he had shook his crutch at Gilbert.
Gilbert casually stirred his coffee and then stuck a teaspoon in both ears and sang, "Lalalala… what's that Gilbird? A stuck-up poncy aristocrat? Ja ja…"
Roderich was red with rage and embarrassment, the other occupants of the waiting room were giggling.
"You imbecilic little jerk. You will make me an appointment right now and not for a prostrate examination this time…"
"You love them… you love Ludwig's big manly hand up your…" Gilbert didn't have chance to finish his sentence as Roderich jumped back on his mobile scooter and proceeded to slam it back and forth at the reception desk.
Dr Beilschmidt opened his door, waving a very pregnant woman out, "Watch how you go, Madam, any time now…" and stopped dead at the scene.
"Gilbert! Austria! You… you…" he didn't finish.
"You remember!" his recently-appointed health assistant exclaimed.
"Of course!" Ludwig hung his head, "I'm Germany, but I liked being a doctor," he said quietly.
Germania laughed with the absurdity of it all and quickly shut up as Ivan entered the building.
No-one else was laughing.
Roderich, or should one say, his mobile scooter had demolished the oak desk and now he slapped Gilbert smartly several times around the face with a pair of latex examination gloves.
"You scoundrel!" he yelled.
Gilbert exploded with rage and leapt onto the remains of the desk. Gilbird flew off in alarm, scattering droppings over Roderich's impeccable velvet jacket. "Fuckin' poncy scrounger! You were always useless against the Awesome Me back in 17…" he yelled in gutteral German (Gilbert that is, not Gilbird).
Roderich spluttered and also yelled in German, "Uncouth little… you stole my vital regions!"
"Silesia!" Gilbert yelled as a battlecry.
"Nein! Bruder! Osterreich!" Ludwig attempted to intervene.
Ivan, like waking from a dream, looked around at the scene. The first thing that hit him was the German voices and then the clash of metal and shouts of "Nein!" and "Schnell!"
Ivan's mind sped back 70 years, sliding back in time…
A purple mist seemed to emanate from him, his violet irises grew darker and his fist clenched around the piece of bathroom plumbing. "Kolkolkol…" he began to chant.
The surgery waiting room emptied.
"Fuuuuuuuck!" came the elongated yell from Gilbert as he was snatched up like a doll and flung through the adjacent window.
"Fat commie bastard!" Gilbert yelled from a prone position outside.
"Nobody touches my bruder…" Dr Beilschmidt said, narrowing his eyes, "Not even you," and he jumped at the Russian.
"I was just about to…" Roderich tried to sidle out of the door but found himself instead in a three-way duel (using a ruler for a sword) alongside Ludwig against the large Russian. He feared this would not end well.
"Germania! Help us!" Ludwig yelled, in desperation as he and Austria were progressively backed into a corner. Admittedly, a 12 inch shatterproof ruler and a scalpel were no use against a 12 inch length of lead piping wielded by an enraged 6 foot 200 pound Russian but Germany was no slouch and he struggled to hold his ground.
Germania made the mistake of answering in archaic German and found himself upside down, held by his feet and being swung at his grandsons.
"Aaaargh, Roma!" the ancient Nation yelled and hoped his old boss would extricate himself from his probable location of a large bed underneath several girls and help him.
As Germania flew through the already-smashed window (perhaps Ivan/Russia had tired of holding him upside-down?), he was momentarily relieved to see Rome running towards him looking concerned. His relief was short-lived as he realised it wasn't Rome but his ex-boss' ineffectual grandson, Romano. As he landed with a whump on Gilbert, he reflected how his long thousands years old life had culminated in this - being used as a missile by an upstart of a Slavic Nation.
"Get off me… you… whoever you are…" Gilbert tried to shove his grandfather off him.
"I'm actually…" Germania began but they were interrupted by a loud cough.
"Here's yer pizza, beer bastard!" Gilbert was handed a pizza box by the dour Italian pizza delivery boy.
"Danke!" Gilbert said and, although World War 3 appeared to have started just ten feet away, began to eat.
"Ten pounds and delivery!" Romano insisted.
Germania smiled, finally getting to his feet, "You're like your grandfather… only more… more…" Germania couldn't quite find the words.
Romano ignored him, holding out his hand, "And a tip!" he said, muttering something like, "Stupido".
"Ja, here's a tip - get here faster next time, idiot Dummkopf!" Gilbert told him.
Romano, who had actually turned away, pocketing his ten pounds, turned back around. Usually a coward, Romano was today, very annoyed - the 'stupido' Spanish kindergarten teacher had already called him 'his little tomato' and the 'stupido old guy' his brother had employed in the pizzeria - someone who called himself 'Romulus', had proceeded to take over the pizzeria, and now this German 'idiot'... Romano snapped and leapt on him.
It was around this time that Natalya paid the pizzeria a visit before going to the hairdressers (note readers around this time Arthur's mental state had just begun to deteriorate in the Primary School).
"Do you know the arrangements for the food for my beautiful wedding this afternoon?" Natalya had asked the shaky Italian chef.
Feliciano nodded (he didn't).
"And the wedding cake? You've made it?"
Feliciano nodded (he had - but it wasn't made to her specifications).
"And the cake is three tiers with sunflowers, vodka and blood red ribbons on it?"
Feliciano nodded (it wasn't).
Natalya smiled and waved her knife in the air, "Very good, because we don't want anybody to get hurt, do we?"
Feliciano shook his head, dumbly.
Then a brown head suddenly appeared from behind the counter and a loud voice exclaimed, "Aaah! Miss Natalya! You looka likea your mama!"
Natalya frowned, "You know my mother?" she asked the strange, tall dark-haired man in the toga.
Rome suddenly stopped and thought, his handsome face screwed up in indecision, "Ah well… non…" he said after some humming and harring.
Natalya glared at him for a moment, confused, absent-mindedly waved her knife at him and stormed out to the hairdressers.
Over at the Axe and Dwarf public house, the esteemed proprietor, Mr Mathias Kohler was rubbing his head and looking around his beloved establishment. It was 11.00 am and he was due to open in an hour. But where was his chief bartender, stooge and best friend, Erik? He hadn't seen him since last night when he'd suddenly run out saying something stupid about… countries being nations? Mathias shook his head and opened a bottle of beer and began to mop up in a desultory fashion, chugging his beer and trying not to think of axes, longboats and…braids? Mathias stopped mopping and put the bottle of beer to his lips. Did he used to have hair braids? Now that was disturbing.
The door was flung open and a tall, blond man came charging in, completely shattering images of himself and a lot of other men in viking helmets in longships, their hair in braids.
"Mathias! We're Nations!"
It was big Berwald, the town carpenter and odd-job man who often irritated Mathias - mainly because 'big' Berwald evidently didn't like him (everyone liked Mathias, even those who said they didn't).
Mathias shook his head, "Ber, my main man, have a beer… chill…" he said. Perhaps Berwald was finally trying to be friends with him. Well who could blame him? He was the King of Northern… Snoring. Mathias frowned and wondered why at Christmas he'd hung onto those silly paper crowns that popped out of crackers and wore them on his head in the secrecy of his bathroom - grinning at himself in the mirror like a loon?
"And now I've realised why I don't like you!" Berwald said, a horrid gleam in his eyes.
Mathias frowned and noticed that these were the most words he'd ever heard the carpenter say in all the years/months (or however long it was) he'd known him. He also noticed something else, Berwald was carrying a rather large sword.
"I'm sorry I didn't allow that ABBA singalong the other week and I'm sorry I said Agnetha was a rubbish singer…" Mathias was backing away quickly as he said this, holding his mop out in front of him (but still holding his beer bottle).
Berwald just grunted and swung the sword.
To say Mathias screamed like a little girl would be an insult to little girls. He turned tail, dropped his mop and flung himself behind his bar, slamming the wooden divider down and pointed with utter and supreme confidence at the sign "Bar staff only" and folded his arms.
To say he was astonished when Berwald took the axe from the wall ('Axe and the Dwarf'? Thankfully there was no 'dwarf') and battered his way through, would be like saying Feliks never painted his nails, or that Francis loved English cooking or that Arthur didn't like tea and custard creams.
Outside on the High Street, Yao Wang and Kiku Honda were squaring up. However, when the author says 'squaring up' they were stood on opposite sides of the road, outside their respective food establishments, staring at each other.
They had stood like this for over twenty minutes. Yao had managed to ignore, with great difficulty, the sight of the big Russian florist stumbling out of his shop and going into the doctors surgery and the subsequent smashing of glass. (Usually, Yao locked the shop, put the closed sign up and hid behind the counter when he saw Ivan.)
Inside the Herb Cafe, Hans, the tall Dutch proprietor, with the spiky hair and a long blue and white scarf which he wore in all weathers (much like Ivan) was watching the two Asians with amused interest. His two sisters - both tomboys dressed in combats and although small and dainty-looking were actually quite tough - stood beside him.
"I think Mr Wang and Mr Honda could do with one of our herbal cigarettes and a nice cup of coffee," Hans said.
One of the sisters started to step into the road with two cups and a packet of 'herbal' cigarettes but stopped abruptly when a horse passed her.
Nothing unusual in that, one would suppose - this was a small, rural English village after all - but the rider's appearance made this unusual.
Elizaveta had cancelled all her appointments for that day, and had flounced out of the house earlier knowing that she just had to go horse-riding. She had no idea why but she just had the feeling something was very wrong and the only way it would be 'right' would be if she was on horseback.
So there she was, on a farmer's borrowed gelding, a crossbow slung over her shoulder (she'd found this weapon in the garage a few weeks earlier and found its appearance most puzzling) and a sheet tied around her neck in lieu of a cloak.
She was going to kick ass. She wasn't sure whose ass, that was irrelevant.